You’re looking to market your law firm online, so you naturally default to the tried-and-true tactics of building a keyword-rich website, blogging, and using all of the social media tools at your disposal. But what about some of the most effective local sites out there?
After all, most of the lawyers I know are looking to bring in clients from a pretty small geographic area – one, maybe two cities and towns. After all, most of us are too small to ride the rails to a great extent. For us, marketing a law firm online needs to include not only the big fish (blogging, websites, social media tools) but also the new kid on the block – local search.
Local search is extremely effective because it leverages not only the major social media and search engine optimization tools, but usually encompasses some location-based mobile applications as well.
Remember – people are more likely to search for “Detroit bankruptcy lawyer” than “bankruptcy lawyer” if they’re looking for someone in the Motor City. Marketing a law firm online needs to encompass local search to be effective and get as much of that traffic as possible.
Here are my top 5 local search options for marketing a law firm online:
Google Places: Google is ubiquitous in the online world. Chances are, your firm is already listed, to some degree, on Google Places. You can – and should – enhance your entry to make it more palatable to visitors. For example, $25 a month allows you to add enhanced tags to your entry. You can tell visitors which areas of law you specialize in and add links to help them learn more. If you’re especially tech-savvy, you can set up QR codes that can be scanned by mobile devices, allowing visitors to learn more about you at a glance. We’ve talked about Google Places a few times here, and I encourage you to review how to set up Google Places for your law firm as well as how to maximize your law firm’s Google Places listing. Want a step-by-step workshop on search engine optimization for Google Places? Click here to get a video-on-demand download for a song and dance.
Yelp: If you don’t already maintain a profile on Yelp, you’re missing out. This portal is especially popular in major metropolitan areas, acting as a type of online word-of-mouth directory. By registering for free, you can respond to reviews – either publicly or privately – and post information that will entice people to learn more about your business. Yelp is a must for any lawyer who’s interested in marketing a law firm online, especially given the fact that the depth of information on the site makes it a magnet for the search engines.
Angie’s List: The beautiful thing about Angie’s List is that it’s virtually impossible to get spammed. Why? Because anyone who wants to rate or review your firm must pay for an account first. That helps keep out the riffraff and makes it easier to maintain a professional presence. Maintaining a profile on Angie’s List demonstrates your willingness to be transparent about your services and highlights your confidence in what you do. As positive reviews add up, so will your ranking on the site. Angie’s List is rapidly gaining in popularity, which means the search engine ranking of each of the individual listing pages is sure to increase over time.
craigslist: When it comes to free online classifieds, craigslist is king. Marketing your law firm online has got to include craigslist. You’ve got to take pains to write professional-sounding ads so that they aren’t construed as spam. If necessary, pay someone to create a crisp, attention-grabbing ad for you. That way, you’ll stand out from the crowd and attract the types of clients that you want.
Other Local Classifieds: After setting up accounts and profiles with the major players in the online classifieds game, you should check out the local online classifieds for your area’s major newspapers. Although many of them will charge you to post ads, the prices tend to be far lower than what you’d pay for traditional newspaper classified ads. There are also several other worthwhile local classifieds websites to consider – like onlineclassifieds.com, Oodle and www.pennysaverusa.com – that can help expand your web presence in a locally-focused way. Different people use different online classifieds, so it’s worth your while to post ads and profiles on as many different ones as possible.
Setting up profiles and ads on the preceding online classifieds websites is quick, easy and – for the most part – free. Even if each site only garners you a client or two, the effort will have been more than worth it. With so many consumers looking to these local search options, it’s more important now than ever to consider these venues when you’re putting together a plan to market your law firm online.
Have you used any of these services? How’s it going for you?
Photo credit: lumierefl (Flickr).